It’s approaching Christmas and, for many people, this is a wonderful time of year. However, for others it can be difficult time. Sometimes, it can be hard to remember that not everyone is blessed with the same happy circumstances, and that the holidays can bring about memories of people lost, achievements failed, or another year gone badly. If you find yourself in bad circumstances or situations, please know that there is a way out. It’s for this reason I decided to join Brenda’s December season of sharing what my toughest writing moment has been and how I got out of it.
Writers are susceptible to depression, and none of us are immune to it. My biggest writing pain came a few years ago. I had been submitting my writing on and off for almost sixteen years. Yes, you heard me right – sixteen years. I had taken every workshop going. I had revised until my fingers bled. I had built my platform. I had spoken to agents and editors. I had read and read and read. Yet, still I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be.
I remember one day I was in my bedroom, computer on, and an email pinged. It was yet another rejection. It was only a form. I’d had R&Rs, fulls and partials rejected before. And yet it was this one little form that broke the camel’s back for me. I don’t think I had sobbed that hard for a long time. It totally decimated me. It wasn’t a huge moment in terms of what had happened. But it was huge in its effect.
So huge, in fact, I gave up writing for two years. Two years I did not write a word. I shunned books. I felt depressed when I read one and remembered how I wasn’t good enough. I began to hate the thing I had loved so much. It got to the point where a deep sadness and sense of failure lay over me, even when I wasn’t thinking about writing.
It came to the point where I picked up a book by my favorite author and I didn’t enjoy it. I couldn’t understand why. It took me quite a while to figure it out. I was jealous. Ugly, horrid, unflattering jealousy. It made me realize something important. I measured myself off everyone else’s standards…but the thing was, they weren’t really everyone else’s standards. They were mine. My own self-imposed rigid rules. I had been so busy trying to be perfect. So busy following all the writing rules. So busy editing until my manuscript became just row after row of mechanically correct prose. So busy doing all of that, I’d taken all the passion and spark out of my books.
It was a huge eye-opener for me. In a bid to be flawless, I had become robotic. In an insane act of trying to be perfect, I had become a Stepford wife writer. I had put all of my soul into the action of being perfect, and not into the action of showing me on the page. So, I decided to write something and edit it to where I wanted it to be. Was it perfect? No. Was everything following every rule? No. Did it parallel J.K Rowling or John Grisham or Phillip Pullman? No. Was it me? Damn straight it was.
That book got me my agent three months later. But more importantly, that book made me love writing again. Whenever I am down, I throw the rulebook out of the window. So stop worrying about being perfect. Stop worrying about following every rule. Love your words. Don’t CARE if no one else does. In the act of letting go, you will find yourself…and others will find you too. I wish you all release and peace for the holidays. <3